After one of the hottest, driest growing seasons in recent memory, Stafford County farmers finally will receive some help: The area has qualified for drought disaster relief.

The designation, made Wednesday, means local farmers will be eligible for low-interest government loans, in some cases keeping growers from declaring bankruptcy.

Still, Stafford officials said they would like the federal government to do more for growers.

"I would hope that it would help," said Regina Prunty, agriculture extension agent for Stafford. "But it would help more if some other kind of aid along the lines of grants or something" would be approved.

"But that all depends on what Congress does and if Virginia is included," Prunty said.

Stafford received the relief designation because Caroline County, Va., which touches its the southern boundary, was declared a primary disaster area. Contiguous counties are included in the aid package.

Stafford officials submitted their own request for the disaster status last week, but state and federal officials still are considering the application. Wednesday's designation will not halt that process, though farmers in Stafford will not be eligible for additional aid, Prunty said.

In addition to Caroline, federal officials declared 12 other counties disaster areas because of the drought. In Northern Virginia, Loudoun County has been declared a disaster area and Fauquier County received the status as part of Orange County's designation.